Arab Businesswoman Runs for Israeli Presidency

Ilham Khazen.
Ilham Khazen.
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Arab Businesswoman Runs for Israeli Presidency

Ilham Khazen.
Ilham Khazen.

For the first time in the history of Israel, an Arab businesswoman announced her intention to run for the presidency to succeed the current Reuven Rivlin, whose term will end in July 2021.

Ilham Khazen, a resident of the Arab town of Ba'nah, in the Western Galilee region, said: "This door has been closed to the Arab community for a long time, and the time has come to open it so that Arab citizens of Israel participate in the highest levels of political action, decision-making positions and influence."

The Israeli president is elected by the 120-member Knesset (parliament) for a seven-year term. Every citizen who has reached the age of 24 is entitled to run for the position. Traditionally, politicians or scholars are chosen to head the state.

But this is the first time that an Arab citizen runs for the post.

Khazen's run will likely fail, particularly as she is running against ten other candidates. Some have speculated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may even run for the post if he fails in dismissing corruption charges against him.

Furthermore, her political platform contradicts the right wing, which boasts the majority in the Knesset.

Also, Khazen believes in peace and resolving conflict in the region through the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Khazen, 55, is a businesswoman and a mother of five children and grandmother to two grandchildren. She owns a group of pharmacies and a medical center in Sakhnin.

She started her political career in the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, then moved to the Israeli Labor Party. She ran for a seat in the Knesset, but failed to win.

She says that her nomination for the presidency was a message that Arabs in Israel are also part of Israel and have the right to participate in its leadership.

Khazen says that since her announcement, she has received many letters of support from Jews and Arabs.

“I will work to represent the entire population and to consolidate coexistence among them. Israel is a gathering of minorities, not just Jews and Arabs,” she said.



Israeli Forces Advance in Southern Gaza, Tanks Active in Rafah

This picture taken in Khan Yunis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Yunis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
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Israeli Forces Advance in Southern Gaza, Tanks Active in Rafah

This picture taken in Khan Yunis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Yunis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Bashar TALEB / AFP)

Israeli forces advanced deeper into some towns on the eastern side of Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Thursday, hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US lawmakers he was actively engaged in bringing hostages home.
Fighting in recent days has centered around the eastern towns of Bani Suaila, Al-Zanna, and Al-Karara, where the army said on Wednesday it had found the bodies of five Israelis who were killed in Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel and held in Gaza since, Reuters said.
Hamas militants took more than 250 hostages in the early morning raid into southern Israel and killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies.
Israel retaliated by vowing to eradicate Hamas in Gaza in a nine-month war that has killed more than 39,000 Palestinians, Gaza health officials say.
Several were wounded in the eastern towns during Israeli tank and aerial shelling, while an airstrike east of Khan Younis killed four people, Palestinian health officials said.
Israeli bombardment intensified in several areas in Rafah, near the border with Egypt, as tanks operated north, west and in the town center, residents and medics said. Several Palestinians were also wounded in Israeli fire earlier on Thursday.
The Israeli military said forces operating in Khan Younis killed dozens of militants and dismantled around 50 military infrastructures, while it continued activities in Rafah, killing two militants.
In a speech to the US Congress, Netanyahu said his government was actively involved in seeking the release of remaining hostages and was confident they would succeed.
DISAPPOINTING SPEECH
Hamas described the comments by Netanyahu as "pure lies" accusing him of thwarting efforts to end the war.
Netanyahu's comments also disappointed many displaced Palestinians who had hoped for a clearer signal of an imminent end to the fighting, which has laid the overcrowded enclave to waste and created a humanitarian crisis.
"It was depressing, he didn't even mention ceasefire at all, not even once," said Tamer Al-Burai, a resident of Gaza City, now displaced in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.
"People awaited some surprise, a ceasefire announcement by Netanyahu as a gift to (US President Joe) Biden, but they slept with much disappointment, as Netanyahu said he was determined to pursue war," Burai told Reuters via a chat app.
Deir Al-Balah, where tanks haven't yet invaded, is currently overcrowded with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, displaced from other areas of the enclave, home to 2.3 million people.
"Netanyahu spoke in a play, he spoke to clowns," said Burai.
Diplomatic efforts by Arab mediators, backed by the United States, to conclude a ceasefire deal, seemed to be on hold, as Israel was expected to send a delegation for more talks next week.
In northern Gaza, an Israeli air strike on a house in the Sheikh Radwan suburb killed four people, medics said, while seven Palestinians arrived at a hospital in central Gaza who had been detained by Israeli forces and released in an area close to the border.